Is Your Home Vacation Ready?
No one needs to tell you how important your home is. After all, home is where the heart is. It’s where you live, where your family is, and it keeps you secure. But when you’re away from home, you need to keep it secure. The last thing you’ll want to do while having fun is worry needlessly. Here are some important safety tips to keep your home in perfect working order while you and your family enjoy your vacation!
Don’t Tweet About Your Trip
With all the current technology options out there to track your location, it’s easier than ever to tell everyone when you’re not at home. No matter how secure you might think an online site is, history has proven that it is not always the case. While you might be excited to tell everyone all the details about your upcoming trip or post pictures of family feet relaxing by the pool, this tells everyone that your home and possessions are unguarded—just wait until you return to share the joys of your vacation, although it’s better to still maintain some level of privacy about your return. Be sure to turn off the volume on your home phone so the ringing won’t signal an opportunity to passersby and change your voice mail greeting to say you’re out of town.
Clear Gutters, Downspouts And Drains – When water overflows from its proper channels, it can seep under siding and flood the basement.
Trim Tree Limbs – Cut branches that extend over your house, particularly any that are dying or dead-the ones that are bare when they should have leaves in case there’s a storm while you’re on vacation.
Eliminate Easy Access – According to statistics from the FBI, 61 percent of burglars use force to gain entry. “But they’ll often look for open doors and windows first,” says Jim Towns. Triple check that all door and window locks are working (including windows on the second story), and repair any broken glass, particularly in basement windows. Bring in any hidden keys and never leave keys with anyone whom you don’t explicitly trust.
Secure The Garage – If you are leaving the car at home, park it outside, against the garage door, to block access. Remove garage door remotes from the car and unplug the electric door opener (the box unit attached to the garage ceiling), so the door can’t be opened while you’re away. Make sure to lock the car and garage doors.
Stop All Deliveries And Pickups – Have your mail held while you’re away. You can sign up online at HoldMail.USPS.com. Don’t forget to cancel garbage pickup and newspaper deliveries, too. Overstuffed mailboxes, full garbage cans and loose papers are a surefire way to alert everyone you are away and your home is not being monitored.
Watch The Water – After the cycle has finished, empty the dishwasher and then leave the dishwasher door open. That will allow the interior to dry so it won’t smell musty by the time you get home. If a hose to your dishwasher or washing machine happens to crack or come loose while you’re away, a flood might occur so also turn off the water supply to those two appliances. For the dishwasher, the lever handle is usually located under the sink. For the washing machine, look for a valve switch behind the machine. Flush the toilet and leave the lid up (just this once!) so you don’t come home to icky, stagnant water.
Turn Off Small Appliances – A power surge can damage these items or even cause a fire. Unplug any small appliances and electronics that aren’t plugged into a surge protector (such as the toaster and coffeemaker) and set all surge protector switches to off.
Always Arm The Alarm – Notify your security company that you’ll be away. Give a family member or friend your alarm code, the security company’s phone number, your itinerary, and your contact numbers. Press the “test” button on your smoke alarms to make sure they work, and change the battery if necessary.
Keep The A/C Going – It may sound like a waste of money and energy, but a warm temperature indoors can cause mold and mildew to grow in just a few days. Set the air conditioner to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and your house will stay cool enough to prevent both.
Lights On Like You’re Home – The kitchen is usually in the back of the house (a favorite spot for break-ins) so it often has no plug-in lights. Simply move a lamp into the kitchen and plug into a timer that you can set. Be sure to have several turned on in the front part of the home, and possibly the front door light as well (which will require an outdoor timer). Be sure to set them from dusk to dawn.
Helen Oliveri is a 12-year real estate professional who loves to vacation anytime of the year. She is the managing broker of the newly opened Keller Williams Realty Partners, home of The Helen Oliveri Team in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, where she also resides. For more home tips and information visit HelenOliveri.com or call 847.967.0022.